Two sisters from Highlands are among five young composers, learning piano out of a Langford school, who have won awards for compositions in the B.C. Registered Music Teachers Composing Competition.
Satai,11, and Saegeas Miller, 8, are both aspiring young musicians who received recognition at the competition.
The sisters and three other students are trained by PJ Music Studios director Pamela Smirl. The competition is held every year for students of private music teachers.
Satai won first place in two categories. One was for her lyrical song “Have You Ever Dreamt of Heaven?” The other was for her instrumental “Video Game.”
She won a national award as a seven years old, for her piece “Bat Dance” and has been playing piano for about six years.
She is about to do her Grade six exam.
Younger sister Saegeas won at the novice level for her instrumental piece “Bumper Carz.” Saegeas also placed second nationally the year before for “That New Black Magic” and earned first-class honours with distinction on her grade three piano exam in June.
“Aren’t I lucky to have these guys?” Smirl said.
Other winners are Carmyn Slater, 12, from Sooke, who won first place in the intermediate category for her piece “Echoes from Montreal.”
Seven-year-old Danae Kong won first place in the novice vocal song category for “Rocking a Hummingbird to Sleep.”
Adult student Graham Roebuck won second place in the open category for his piece “Hildred’s Fixation.”
Composition is always an option but never mandatory for Smirl’s students.
“I try to encourage them to because creativity is huge and it’s a talent that you need in this world,” Smirl said.
Satai said jokingly that her favourite part of composing is the candy they get as rewards. She came up with “Have You Ever Dreamt of Heaven?” while riding her bike around her deck.
She said she was singing to herself when the tune just came to her.
“(I) kept on going with the tune and then I made up words for the song,” Satai said. “So you just start with an idea and build off that.”
Saegeas takes a somewhat different approach and prefers to play around at the piano with different notes and chords until something catches her ear. She then develops that, as she did with her piece “Bumper Carz,” until a song is borne.
Both budding musicians started taking early childhood music classes at the age of three.
The classes involve playing with drums and bells and having fun with the basics of music in a group setting.
The winning pieces have gone on to the national level of the competition, the results of which should be released some time next month.
In related news, eight-year-old Kevin Paulraj, a student of Smirl’s son Michael, is also being honoured for tying with Slater for best overall composition at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival for his piece “The Carrom Board Master.”